Shipping Lanes


Gareth Davis & Machinefabriek
Ghost Lanes

Custard pie me, why don’t you? Pelt me with rotten veg if you will, but I’m just not a fan of the clarinet. And yes, I do know that Perry Robinson and Peter Brötzmann both favour the “Licorice Stick”. But for me, its over-fruity tonalities are way too anchored in sixties Brit trad jazz revivalism (see Messrs Bilk and Ball…). But…when Monsieur Clarinette’s family tree is revealed to harbour a couple of weirdly-shaped black sheep in its fold in the form of bass and contrabass versions, then colour me an interested party. After all, Rene Garber (Mekanik… era Magma) and Sir Eric Dolphy can’t be wrong surely? And neither can Amsterdam-based Gareth Davis who has introduced this rumblesome oddity (shunned by normal god-fearing woodwinds), into diverse projects helmed by the likes of Robin “Scanner” Rimbaud, Ryan Teague and ECM stalwart Terje Rypdal.

His liaison with Dutch dronist and hyperactive electro-chemist Rutger Zuydervelt (a.k.a. Machinefabriek) a number of years back, resulted in almost instantaneous telepathy. So great in fact, that their very first improv session; the 23.15 min Ghost Lanes was released as a limited, blink and you’ll miss it, 3″ cdr soon after. Since then, the Drape and Grower cds (on Home Normal and Sonic Pieces respectively) have insinuated themselves into the collective ear with positive copperplate by review scribes hither and indeed thither.

So it makes for good horse sense to give that initial session a slight return by occupying one half of the Ghost Lanes vinyl LP, which comes care of the Dekorder imprint, that fine purveyor of avant esoterica. A perfect mothership in fact for Rutger’s over-furtive scrabbling, electricity substation ambience and Gareth’s plaintive sonorities, which soon take on the guise of a beached cetacean, in its death throes, vainly calling out to its pod. Having been recorded eighteen months later, it might be suggested that its companion piece, the charmingly titled “Mackerel Sky” might make the album lack a certain cohesion – but that’s simply not the case, each side complements the other without question. Though, it must be said, Rutger’s guitar/amp loopage is a tad twitchier and occupies a more fragmented, yet cavernous soundstage. His co-conspirator, fully cognizant of this mood shift, also ups the ante a notch and, on a couple of occasions, his horn squealing/reed gnawing delivery really does throw a number of toys out of the hypothetical pram.

Mention must also go to the striking, yet anonymously sourced sleeve art. We see an example of what happens when urban planning goes “rogue”, in which the road system seems to lead to nowhere in particular…but does so suggesting that the journey is more important that the final destination. An idea that just might allude to this meeting of the minds?

Gareth Davis

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